The disconnect between American military and civilian life are only growing, and with it, an expanding impatience for the use of patriotism as a feel-good marketing tool. This earlier Atlantic piece by James Fallows about how we treat members of the armed forces set the stage; now comes Pierce with a specific bone to pick with our beloved NFL:
Propaganda is a messy business. We like to think of ourselves as the shrewdest of consumers, but we can be the biggest rubes who ever sat around the cracker barrel. We like to think we can tell truth from fiction, but we are still the country of the patent medicine salesman, the loaded dice, the Ponzi scheme, and the rigged wheel. It is in this country that Mark Twain placed Hadleyburg and reported about amazing jumping frogs. We are not now, nor have we ever been, the hardest mark in the room. The world can see us coming a mile off.
At the same time, our hackles go to DEFCON 1 whenever anyone intimates that we might sell our birthright for a bag of magic beans. This is particularly true when it comes to the government and our sports-entertainment-industrial complex. We demand the right to choose the people we allow to swindle us, and our politicians and our athletes are not on the list. We look on every government initiative as though it were aimed directly at our wallets. We look on our spectacle sports as the outward manifestations of dark, witchy forces that arrange strange outcomes and rig lotteries. These are the two most target-rich environments for conspiracy theories for a reason.
If there’s one thing we don’t like, it’s being called out. If there’s one thing we shouldn’t stand for, it is the military being used for anything beyond the purpose for which it exists. And before it happens (right), eliding this as any kind of ‘attack on our people in uniform’ is just the worst the kind of skullduggery, and/or roofing material upon the last refuge of scoundrels. And probably both. Just stop it.